Contacting ‘Three a Day’

It is well documented that contacting three potential donors a day is a must for a full-time Major Gifts Executive.   But what exactly does that mean?   Does this refer to those donors you are ‘managing’, your qualified caseload?  Or does it refer to new prospects?

Also does it really matter?

I think it is a helpful goal for time management but also to keep an MGE focused on what their key job is:  To make contact and develop relationship with philanthropists.

In answer to the first question above, I am of the opinion it should include both.   In your monthly monitoring it makes it very much easier if it includes both qualified caseload and ‘active prospects’.  Also to keep it clear it should ideally be a philanthropist that you have not already made contact with this month.  So not only is it three a day, but also three different individuals each working day until a new month starts.   This is my view – feel free to share yours  🙂

Taking the average of 20 working days in a month it adds up to making contact with at total of 60 individuals every month in a full working month assuming no days out for holidays, away days or conferences.  This is a healthy number of contacts in any MGE’s working month.

However the key part is a ‘different’ three each day.  So the question to ask as an MGE is “Have I already contacted this person this month?”  If it is no then include them in your ‘three a day’.   If not then don’t include them in this calculation.  Simple!   You may ask why should I bother with all of this?  Particularly as a Manager trying to monitor an MGE’s activity and for an MGE’s personal goals it is significant and here’s why…………………………………

An MGE will make lots more contacts than this over a month because those he/she has contacted already this month will require follow up.   This is where ‘contacting three a day’ can be confusing.   If an MGE keeps making contacting with the same people over and over again they may reach their stats by the end of the month but are they doing a good job at developing relationships with a wider group?

Because of this I would suggest that ‘three a day’ refers to three different people every working day of the month hence contacting 60 is achieved by month end.

Each MGE is at a different place even within a big team and some will have more prospects than qualified caseload and some more qualified caseload than prospects.  This is not because one MGE is more accomplished than another (although there are clearly those who are gifted at this job).  The difference is the potential philanthropists who will vary in their response.

To give a practical example, the diagram shows an MGE with a qualified caseload of 26 with whom he or she is maintaining a monthly relationship and an assumption that the MGE has an active list of 25 prospects whom they are trying to contact and qualify:

Major Gifts Executive


Within a calendar month

‘Three a day’ from either section

However three different ones each day ie

No contact yet this month

As you can see in this example the number of caseload and prospects does not add up to 60.  Therefore this particular MGE has the capacity to take on 9 (60 – 51) more active prospects to be able to achieve 60 in a calendar month.   So this becomes a helpful gauge for activity level.

This is also a great way for a Manager to assess how many contacts/prospects an MGE should be working with.  Although inevitably MGE’s do work at different paces!   Some MGE’s are more thorough and others just get more contacts done!

In summary, I don’t think it matters whether the ‘three a day’ are qualified caseload or prospects rather it is more important that the MGE is contacting a minimum of three different people every day.

Calculating the number of touch points (whether meeting, phone, letter, email, text) is important to do as well.  A typical MGE will achieve over 100 in a month.  A really accomplished MGE might achieve over 120 touch points in a month.   That is an average of five to six touch points each day.   Out of those five to six touch points each day, the point I am suggesting is that three of them will be approaching different people (to anyone else approached that month).  At the end of the month this goes back to zero.

Five to six touch points a day may seem low but each contact requires preparation such as reading previous donor contact forms to refresh the detail of the person and also a thorough writing up of what was learned through the phone call or visit.

In summary, although the ‘three a day’ is mentioned often, when you come to consider what it actually means it is much more complicated.

Also bear in mind that the more mature the programme becomes the less people an MGE can manage.  The reason is an individual, if properly looked after, will give more in the second year and third year and managing the relationships takes more time.  Therefore over time the number of people an MGE is managing is less but the income is more.

If a philanthropist is giving over £50,000 each year they will often want more engagement with your charity/organisation and this takes intensive time.  In which case the MGE may only have a case load of 30 or 35.  At that point the ‘three a day’ becomes redundant anyway.   Looking after 30 individuals who are giving over £50,000 (or even £30k+)each year is an income of £1,500,000.  This can take 5 years+ assuming the MGE stays with the charity as handover of donors to someone else can set the programme and the income back.

Just a note here to any charity manager or director:  If you have someone good – pay them highly to encourage them to stay!   The cost of them leaving is huge.

WELL……….there are a number of issues that came out of starting a blog with just ‘three a day’ as the subject!

Any comments on your experiences…………………….

Ruth is the principal and founder of Ascent Philanthropy, author of two books and passionate about helping non-profits with their major gift programmes by offering advice for introducing a new major gift programme or enhancing the productivity of the philanthropy team

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